Page:Merry Muses of Caledonia.djvu/29

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( xxiii )

No. VI. closely follows V., but contains three additional pieces:—

The Gipsy Girl.
Here's a Bumper to her.
Fanny is the Girl for me.

On every page is printed "Burns's Merry Muses," which entitles it to the distinguished honour of being the most villainous edition that has ever appeared.

The other volumes, being reprints pure and simple, need not be dwelt upon. Though our list is probably far from being complete, sufficient data will be found in the foregoing for an estimate of the amount of "trash he never saw," which has been foisted on the name of Burns in the interests of a nefarious trade, which is quite on a level with violating his grave and suspending his bones on the gibbet.

Returning to the Dumfries edition, and deducting double titles, we have in reality 85 individual compositions. Of these, no reprint or subsequent edition which we have examined contains more than forty, a fact which effectually disposes of any pretensions they may have to be placed on the same plane with the volume which is assumed to represent the original manuscript. Proceeding to analyse the table of contents we find, firstly, that fifteen of the compositions appear in one or other of the published editions of the Poet's works; the more rare, in the Kilmarnock edition of Scott Douglas. Though more or less amended in word or phrase, these still retain sufficient of their original character upon which to found a judgment. Upon the remaining seventy it would be rash to give an ex cathedra deliverance till a complete collection of the old works, formerly referred to, supplies whatever recoverable